Mo Bikes Across Florida

If anyone’s curious, it takes about 13 hours and 35 minutes to ride across the state of Florida, plus a few stops for getting chased by dogs and whatnot!

Another adventure and epic checked off! I wanted to ride my bike across a state and also wanted to ride 200 miles, so why not do both at the same time? A while ago I found a ride put on by Singletrack Samurai, which was a mostly off-road gravel route coast to coast in Florida called Kings Road! I signed up for it and sure enough, my parents decided they wanted to visit us the same time as the event so I had to change plans up and attempt it solo. The ride has to be unsupported so I picked up a USWE hydration pack and stuffed my Velocio kit full with food and Tailwind Nutrition. Luckily my Fezzari Shaffer had enough room for 3 bottles on the frame so I was dialed there. Hannah dropped me off at Steinche and from there I dipped my tires in the water and started what would turn out to be a very long day in the saddle. The first few gravel roads were insanely beautiful and it was so cool being that deep in the middle of nowhere. Then I ran into my first few dogs of the day. I’m starting to realize that guard dogs and gravel backcountry roads kind of go hand in hand and I definitely lost time trying to wait for them to chill out and let me through. But aside from a few dog encounters the route was so good early, so much gravel! I went through parts of Florida I didn’t even know existed on my way to Gainesville. The biggest issues I was facing early was the fact the ride was flat and also the gravel roads were sandy. The flatness was an issue because there was no real room for a break. I was pretty much pedaling almost the entire time. The sand was something I hadn’t really ridden before. I didn’t know what tire pressure would be good so I ran high psi thinking I would cut through it. Looking back I’d probably lower it. Either way, it was super fun challenge. Mile 82 is when I realized wow this is going to be a very long day! Around mile 100 I made it to a Dollar General and that’s when I really started to ask myself, what am I doing!? I was starting to get a little nauseous from the humidity and was finding it harder to eat. But I remember Dave Sheek saying “these rides are an eating contest” and kept forcing myself to eat and drink. This would be insane crucial the further the ride progressed. The Endurance Fuel was saving me and probably a huge part of why I was able to keep a solid pace.

Around mile 130ish, I had my scariest encounter on a main road. A truck decided to try and scare me by flooring it right behind me. It worked. He then pulled up right beside me with tinted windows that he didn’t lower and just stayed at my pace. So many things I wanted to yell right then but common sense had me staying quiet. My Garmin also turned itself off, which is when I really realized I had no idea where I was (because the course map was on the Garmin). Luckily it turned back on but the ride was paused and I didn’t know that until about 30 miles later when I got so hungry because I was eating every 15 miles and my GPS hadn’t moved (I thought I was going really slow). When I put 2 and 2 together and pulled out Strava on my phone and saw I had done 30 miles and not 1 , that was a little moral booster LOL.

A few more gravel roads later and then I was at one of the coolest sections of limestone I had ever seen. This section beat me up for sure but it also was so unique because it was through a nature park. I finished it, then finished a bike path and made it to Palatka just in time for sunset. This was not a good thing considering I was still 50 miles away from the finish after a Wendy’s stop with Hannah for fries I decided to finish the ride and headed to some more gravel on a brick road which was insanely awesome. I wish I could see that road during the day because it felt amazing, I’ll be back I’m sure!

Somehow Hannah ended up on the road too with the van since she missed her turn and thank god she did because 2 dogs attacked the van. She was okay because she was in it but she realized if I can up in the middle of the night solo on a bike and spooked them, I’d be pretty screwed. So she drove past the house and waited for me and told me to get in while she drove past the house. I thought she was exaggerating, she wasn’t. I’ve never seen 2 dogs more unphased by a sprinter van. Maybe the owner saw Hannah on the road and let them loose but these were not your ordinary everyday dog and I’m thankful Hannah drove me past the house. A 20 sec drive later I was back out of the van and pedaling again! This time I was on a very remote, quiet road that felt amazing. Little to no street lights and super quiet. That is until one car decided that my tiny Specialized 500 lumen light was too bright, flashed their high beams at me, and then proceeded to pretend like they were going to hit me by drifting over so we were face to face. At this point I was 180 miles in and over it. I decided that I didn’t want to do the last 5 mile section of dirt road because it was pretty isolated and I had enough dog encounters solo to last me a while and the last one had spooked me enough. I also realized I did not want to ride by myself anymore because I couldn’t trust drivers to make rational decisions on whether or not they should play a game of chicken with my life. I do want to say that I ran into so many cars during this ride when on the road (it’s 60% off road) and almost all the cars were insanely nice and courteous and gave me way more space than anyone in Cali gives.

It was just the two incidents, which, unfortunately, is all it takes. So at this point we made the call for Hannah to stay close by as I made the 25 mile pedal all the way to Flagler Beach. And then before I knew it (just kidding, it felt like an eternity and I definitely knew when I was there) I was at Flagler Beach and touched the water! Coast to coast, 60% off-road, insane gravel routes and lots of memories to take home. My first 200+ mile ride, first mostly unsupported endurance event, first time riding across a state. Lots of first! I learned even more about myself and my ability to shut the mind off and just suffer and also a lot about nutrition and game planning. I would like to say I got it out of my system but unfortunately I think I’ve made it worse, already have a few other ideas!

Thanks to Fezzari for making an awesome gravel bike in the Shaffer, Tailwind to all of the nutrition I used which kept me going, Karlos (@ SingletrackSamurai) for creating the epic route and Hannah for keeping me safe!!! That was awesome!!!!!

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